Demand for information security services appears to be causing a flurry of activity in the channel, as network integrators move to capitalise on growing customer interest.
Bruce Young, a partner with Ernst & Young Australia's information security services division, said last week he believes information security will be the next significant industry focus.
The most recent example of growing market activity was NetStar's announcement that it has teamed up with startup Triton Secure to market the SAFLINK suite of biometric and authentication network security solutions (ARN, November 3, page 24).
NetStar has also set up its own security practice, offering end-to-end services from policy creation through to technical installation and product fulfilment.
According to Young, interest in information security services will continue to rise, particularly as companies start to shift their IT spending focus away from Y2K issues.
`With Y2K out of the way, businesses are going to be spending time, money and resources on how to take advantage of the new e-commerce initiatives and benefits that can be had by participating in this Internet-connected society and with that will come the need for information security,' Young said.
Young said the onus is now on the technology providers to build solutions for end users to take advantage of the opportunities offered by e-commerce. He said these companies needed to be able to deliver effective and efficient solutions.
`The providers that are going to be successful are the ones that can deliver mature products that work, and they need to have those already developed for when people want to roll out these new e-commerce initiatives,' Young said.
Bob Hey, Com Tech's Internet secu-rity manager, agrees, stating the three biggest opportunities for the channel are implementing solutions for VPNs, stronger authentication needs, such as public key infrastructure (PKI) technologies used in e-commerce systems, and outsourced Internet gateway services.
In particular, VPNs continue to generate massive amounts of interest, Hey said.
Meanwhile, Greg Breen, principal security consultant and director of business developer for network integrator Citadel, believes there is money to be made in the SME market with packaged security products for basic security needs.
SME-focused resellers must therefore ask customers to weigh up what risk they are prepared to carry for the ease of use and installation offered by such products. `It's all value-based. Off-the-shelf solutions can be good for small companies,' Breen said.
Young's claims were supported with results from Ernst & Young's Second Annual Global Information Security Survey, released earlier this year, which found that 78 per cent of organisations were not confident their network was safe from internal attack, and 50 per cent lacked confidence about their security against external attack.
In addition, 16 per cent of firms had suffered, or believed they may have suffered, at least one breakin via the Internet. Of those, 75 per cent had a firewall in place. The survey found that most organisations used firewalls (77 per cent) and passwords (67 per cent) as their main Internet security, with only 25 per cent having implemented any form of data encryption.
According to Young, e-commerce will be the biggest market driver. `If they're going to harness [e-commerce] customers are going to have to spend money on security,' he said.
However, Hey said the road to capitalising on security will be a tough one. The biggest inhibitor to growth is finding the right staff, which are currently hard to find.
`The one who wins the employment war is the one who will win the business,' he said.